Challenging times - but councils can still innovate, says Waveney leader
PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 January 2016
The EDP and Lowestoft Journal have asked people from across the town what their hopes and aspirations are for 2016. Here, Waveney District Council leader COLIN LAW reflects on another “eventful” year in our area, while looking ahead to next year.
It has been another eventful year in Lowestoft and Waveney as a whole and I am delighted to once again be reflecting on what has happened during the last 12 months.
As I look around the town, I cannot help but feel that Lowestoft is on the up and that the fantastic people I meet and talk to share a genuine pride in the town and its potential.
In the last few weeks we have seen the confirmation of major investment with the news that Lowestoft will be the main construction and operational base for the East Anglia ONE development.
We have also seen an announcement regarding the extension of the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone and funding awarded to projects for improving South Lowestoft seafront and the historic Scores.
As a council, we work tirelessly with partners to promote and present Lowestoft and Waveney as a location for new industry and a place to business. These announcements show that the town has become one of the very best locations for the renewable energy sector and we welcome it wholeheartedly. However we also respect existing industry and we are delighted that our important fishing fleets will also continue to operate alongside the new development.
What is particularly impressive, however, is how much of these achievements are placed in the context of an increasingly challenging financial position for Waveney District Council.
Central government financial support for local government has reduced by more than 30pc in recent years and while we continue to make efficiency improvements, we still face a substantial shortfall.
With this, therefore, comes difficult financial decisions and our new Joint Business Plan with our partners Suffolk Coastal, maps out how we intend to prioritise economic growth and help make our services more self-financing.
The key here is to not stand still and to always look for ways to grow and innovate to ensure we maintain the highest standard of services for those who need them the most.
This year, the people of Aldwyck Way needed our help and I’m particularly proud of the way our teams responded the flooding which took place there. We have genuinely community-spirited officers who always want to go the extra mile for people who need support.
With flooding in mind, I am also delighted that we have secured £300,000 funding for temporary flood defences, which will contribute to a reduction in the risk of flooding to key vulnerable areas in the central Lowestoft area.
This is ahead of a £25million capital project to construct permanent flood protection for Lowestoft which is on track for completion in 2020. As part of this, business and public consultation events will take place early next year.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Christmas and a fantastic 2016.
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